Friday, 15 February 2008

‘In A Time of Treason’ – David Keck (Tor Books)

David Keck’s fantasy debut, ‘In the Eye of Heaven’, was a surprise package that came through my door (and several other people’s as well) late last year. Despite some issues with its structure I really enjoyed the book, have a look at my Review, and found myself generally looking forward to the sequel (but hoping for an improvement at the same time). Well, I’ve just spent the last few days taking every chance I could to get as much of ‘In A Time of Treason’ read as possible. I still had issues with some of the same things, that bugged me during ‘In the Eye of Heaven’, but on the whole I thought there was a big improvement to be seen here.
Despite his best efforts to escape his romantic predicament, Sir Durand finds himself still serving Lord Lamoric and wondering how he is going to resolve his feelings for Lady Deorwen. However, events further afield are set to take centre stage and force Durand to fight for the honour of his Lord and Lady. A mad King and a treacherous Duke are set to carve up the land in blood and fire while the ancient wards of the kingdom (the ones that keep all the evil out) are becoming weaker and weaker…
I’ll get the bad stuff out of the way first. Like it’s predecessor, ‘In A Time of Treason’ is a book that shoots itself in the foot (somewhat) by being unnecessarily difficult to read at times. Characters will suddenly decide to relate anecdotes that have little to do with the plot. There’s no journey through a magic forest this time but, every now and then, there are passages that feel dragged out almost to the point of awkwardness. The journey by boat, at the very beginning of the book is a good case in point. While it’s a good way to get a feel for the landscape there’s only so much you can do with a bunch of people in a boat! Thankfully, Keck ditches a lot of the ‘info-dumping’ that was prevalent in the first book, with ‘In A Time of Treason’ being a sequel maybe he thought that there was no need for this…
It may sound that I hated this book but not so! Despite the flaws I found myself thoroughly enjoying Durand’s story again. The dynamic between him, Lamoric and Deorwen is captivating and had me turning the pages just to see if things could ever be resolved. Durand is not wandering aimlessly anymore, he has a purpose (albeit slightly conflicted) and this reflects in the story. The worldbuilding element is still there but the story itself takes on more importance and (flaws notwithstanding) is a fast paced and fully engaging affair that had me totally gripped (as I’ve said before, I love stories about knights in armour!) For me, Keck’s greatest strength in this book is his ability to write tense ‘set piece’ scenes and chapters. Whether Durand is standing off against necromancers or an entire city is under siege, the prose is always fully evocative and Keck managed to keep surprising me with what he had planned.
‘In A Time of Treason’ is a marked improvement on ‘In the Eye of Heaven’ and this should hopefully mean great things for the final instalment ‘A King in Cobwebs’. Well worth a look in my opinion,

Eight and a Quarter out of Ten

Fancy reading an interview with David Keck? Head on over to Fantasy Book Critic where I was one of several bloggers contributing questions ;o) While you're there, you can also see what Robert thought of both books in the series so far. If that isn't enough for you, keep an eye open for a chance to win 'In the Eye of Heaven' and 'In A Time of Treason' over on Fantasy Debut...

1 comment:

J Scott Savage said...


Good review. I popped over here after reading the Q&A on Fantasy Book Critic. I think it's often hard for a fantasy novelist to avoid infodump in the first novel of a series because they have so much about their world they want to fill in. Sometimes as an author you just have to be patient and realize the reader will actually be even more intrigued if you draw out revealing some things.

Anyway, glad to hear the second book is better. It is definitely on my to read list.